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Volume 688: debated on Wednesday 17 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many people committed suicide while in legal custody in Northern Ireland during 1981. [HL1063]

The number of suicides in police custody in Northern Ireland in 1981 cannot be provided because to do so could be done only at disproportionate cost. This is because to collate this information would involve making a request to each of the 29 district command units asking for a trawl of any manual records held. Therefore we are unable to supply the information requested.

The PSNI now records “deaths in custody” electronically. However, a verdict of suicide can be determined only at an inquest.

For the figure of suicides in prison custody each year since 1980, I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I provided on 31 October 2006. In addition, 10 individuals died in custody following a hunger strike in 1981.